July 25, 2011
Czech cinemagician Karel Zeman has an admirably sized filmography and was an integral part of animation history, but the director still seems like somewhat of an obscurity — minus amongst Terry Gilliam fans who know that he was inspired by Zeman’s 1961 fantasy film, Baron Prásil (The Fabulous Baron Munchausen), for his 80’s remake of the classic story. Zeman blends a wondrous, poetic, and inventive mixture of animated/cinematic tricks (glass paintings, hand-coloring, etc.) and live action to present a one of a kind take on the tales of Gottfried August Bürger’s Baron Munchausen.
I kept thinking of everything from Guy Maddin, to Ray Harryhausen’s sci-fi adventures, to paper dolls, and psychedelia while watching the film (Gustav Dore engravings were actually used as the backdrops for many scenes) — but the artistry is truly something original.
Some kind soul has uploaded the entire film on Youtube (I’ve shared the first clip below — and it’s subtitled), but I’d recommend picking up a better quality copy of the movie for the full effect. IMDb users posted a few places you can snag a DVD. If anyone out there knows of a better issue, please chime in.